The Cutaneous Horn of War

a cutaneous horn
that’s what the doctors called it
this hideous growth on my ear
my own skin
gone out of control

if i had had two of them
in the right place
i would have been the veritable devil

but instead
i was the typical patient
stripped naked
stretched out on the table
examined from head to toe
after filling out all the forms
in order to gain their mercy
signing off any rights
i might have had … to protest

a simple biopsy
it was not a difficult decision
of course
they didn’t know
what was beneath the surface
i would have to wait
a week or two

but the good doctor was nice
anticipating
the obligatory anxiety:
it’s a less invasive cancer
if any at all
we’ll have to cut a little deeper
if it is
but no one has ever died
from this
don’t worry

the good doctor thought
i might be afraid
afraid to die
for a perfectly natural
perfectly good reason
the good doctor had forgotten
about all the soldiers and innocent civilians
dead
for a misguided war
for a mistake
for a speculation
for oil and profit
in a ruthless desert

young men, young women, children
with no defects
no cutaneous horns
of sound mind
and sound body
just in the wrong place
at the wrong time
and there was no good doctor there
to care about their anxiety